Chapter 1 – “You Came Unto Me”: The Biblical Mandate For Ministry

OBJECTIVES:

Upon conclusion of this lesson you will be able to:

  • Provide references for the scriptural mandate for prison ministry.
  • Explain why believers should be involved in prison ministry.
  • Articulate the spiritual goals of jail and prison ministry.
  • List the social goals of jail and prison ministry.
  • Summarize what the Gospel has to offer prison inmates.
  • Determine your role in prison ministry.

INTRODUCTION

Barbed wire. Steel bars and heavy metal doors. Guard towers with armed officers. Criminals. This is prison!

-Society says, “Lock them up and throw away the key.”
-Politicians say, “We need to build more prisons.”
-Statistics say, “80% of inmates return to prison after release–we are wasting our time to try to rehabilitate them.”

. . . But Jesus says, “I was in prison, and you came to me.”

The prison system is the only “business” that succeeds by its failure. Prison populations grow larger and larger. Often, people come out of prison worse than when they went in. Many commit more crimes, return to prison, and get stuck in the cycle of recidivism, the “revolving door” of crime, prison, and release.

The answer to this is not more prisons. It is not locking people up and “throwing away the key.”

It is not even the death penalty, as studies have shown that even this does not effectively deter crime. The answer is the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the demonstration of power!

Prisoners need regeneration not rehabilitation–and Jesus has commissioned His followers to reach beyond the barbed wire fences and steel bars to touch the lives of men and women bound by the shackles of sin.

Read over the chapter study material and complete the self-test at the end. After this chapter is completed, mark complete and go to the next lesson.